Here is a story of three coffee shops. Since Korea does seem to love its stories, I thought it appropriate.
The other week, the better half and I felt a hankering for some after work coffees. We first headed to the bustling “Jeonpo Cafe Street” area, where we decided to try a new (to us) spot. We ended up at Cafe the Red (Jeonpo subway exit 7, next left, second right, turn right at Coffeesmith) the home of… Cheese Americano?
Am I reading that correctly? Anyway, neither of us were brave enough to find out whether the aforementioned cheese in this drink (price: 5,000 won) was closer to a Danish or deli Swiss. I went for my usual cafe beverage, a Cafe Latte (price: 4,500 won) while the better half went for her usual, a Caramel Macchiato (price: 5,000 won).
Both drinks did their jobs just fine. Neither of us were wowed by them, but neither were offensive, either. And, depending on what you’re looking for in a cafe, Cafe the Red could be the spot for you. It’s a bit “shabby chic,” with black and red the dominant colors on display and a bit of tchotchkie for spice.
But, was it the spot for us? Probably not as repeat customers. There’s just too many spots to sort out, you know? But, what Cafe the Red did is get us buzzed on caffeine. Did you know a “Pub Crawl” isn’t the only crawl you can crawl? Why not give a “Cafe Crawl” a try?
Matin Coffee Roasters (Jeonpo subway exit 7, turn left, pass Starbucks, walk down to next intersection and turn left, walk straight and you will see this on your right, above a “Mart”) caught the eye of the better half a few weeks before. Not because of its cat theme, or even a wellness theme (they encourage people to talk to each other instead of staring at their phones, there is no wifi and no outlets to plug in your devices. However, all of this is written in English, so one has to wonder if they are serious or it’s seriously a gimmick).
And, true to their word, Matin Coffee Roasters did not have a kid in sight.
The aforementioned “wellness” initiative may or may not be a gimmick, either, but we enjoyed a few moments following its advice before checking something out on her iPhone. Hey, there might not be any wifi, but that doesn’t mean your data won’t work.
The atmosphere inside and outside Matin was very, very nice, and felt like a comfortable, modern cafe we might have discovered in the States. Popular acoustic-driven alt-rock of the 1990s and early 2000s dominated the speakers. And, it was being enjoyed by lots of people on the day we popped in for our second round of two in our caffeine crawl.
But, enough of that rub-a-dub. How were the drinks? I’ll say… fine?
As this was our second of two stops on the crawl, we both opted for drinks that differed from our usual benchmarks of a cafe’s quality. Instead of her Caramel Macchiato, the better half got a hot chocolate (pretty decent, pretty chocolatey, she said) and I got a “Busan Latte,” which was a little too sweet for my liking but it would likely please those with sweeter preferences. Prices? I can’t remember, but they weren’t cheap. The Busan Latte, I believe was 6,000 won. The hot chocolate went for a little less. An Americano, I think, was closer to the 3,500 to 4,000 won range.
That said, we’ll definitely check it out again. We bought a 200 gram bag of one of their bean blends (12,000 won, yeowch that’s not cheap!) which we thoroughly enjoyed during a casual Saturday morning at home. Next time, we’ll try our usuals and report back our opinions.
While Matin would be the last coffee we’d drink that evening, our caffeine crawl was merely paused until the next night, when we went to a shop just a block past Matin that we’d seen the night before and vowed to try.
Espressivo was definitely the quietest and “homiest” of the bunch. Down a somewhat dark, somewhat broken alleyway, you’ll find this small, old building, where the proprietor has just a few old, comfortable chairs and tables, a lot of bric-a-brac and some fairly decent coffee to make your stay an overall warm one.
Prices for our Caffe Latte and Caramel Macchiato were a little cheaper than most Korean cafe’s we’ve frequented, but by no means cheap. Expect to pay about 4,000 won for most coffee-based drinks.
Of the three cafe’s we patronized over this two-day span, Espressivo turned out to be my favorite. I thoroughly enjoyed its motif, as well as the pleasant quietness that was lacking at both Matin and Cafe the Red. And, the coffee was rather decent, too. I could definitely see myself sitting at Espressivo for an extended session with my laptop, one or two latte’s and a sense of calm. The better half might choose Matin by a nose as her favorite, but they’re certainly close, and certainly both places we’ll be heading back to sooner rather than later.